When’s the last time you checked your tires? Tire pressure monitoring systems are equipped with so many vehicles on the road today; it gives owners a false sense of security until an alarm goes off or a tire blows out. Your car’s tires have a story to tell, and if you want to determine how well the tires are doing, then you need to be able to understand how to maintain your tires and what the tire wear patterns mean.
Here are the three (3) main things you need to check:
Tread: Check your tires using the “quarter test”, in which you stick an upside-down U.S. quarter between your tires’ tread walls. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, your tire has less than one-eighth of an inch of tread left, and it’s time for a replacement. When you are checking tread, this is also an excellent opportunity to check tire pressure. Read the information on the side of the tire to determine the proper tire pressure and adjust accordingly.
Wear: In a perfect scenario, all four of your tires would wear evenly, and equally; however, this is unlikely due to front wheel drive versus rear wheel drive, and how your car drives. We suggest having tires spun and rotated every 8,000 miles for even wearing, and here are some additional wear signs to check for:
- Excessive wear on the inner or outer edge of the tire suggests something may be wrong with the wheel alignment. To fix the problem, you’ll need to make an appointment with a mechanic.
- If the center of the tire is quicker to wear than the edges, then the tire is likely over-inflated.
- If the outer edges of the tire wear faster than the center, the tire is likely under-inflated.
- A diagonal scalloping on the tire, known as “cupping wear,” suggests the suspension may be worn, bent or somehow compromised. This is a serious concern, and you need to make an appointment with a mechanic immediately.
- Patchy wear implies the tire is out of balance. Have a mechanic spin and rotate your tires, as this will help equalize the wear.
Age: All tires have a date code stamped on the sidewall. Tire rubber degrades and dries out over time. This can cause cracking and stress on the tire’s structural composition, possibly resulting in failure, including blowouts and tread shredding at higher speeds. Older tires often have problems maintaining proper inflation which can cause gas consumption to rise, wasting valuable fuel. If your tires are more than five years old, you should have your auto service professional inspect the tires and check the date code. If you need to buy new tires, AAA recommends not buying tires that are more than a year old.
Whether you drive a four-wheel drive Ford pickup truck or a front-wheel drive Volkswagen, visit our AAA certified tire center. Our professional sales associates and service technicians are ready to help you with all of your tire needs. You will find our prices competitive and a complete line of quality, brand-name, tires. Also, with every set of tires you purchase (either 2 or 4) you will receive lifetime tire rotation and tire balance, plus we will fix any flats for the life of the tires.